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Old 08-14-2022, 07:34 PM   #1
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Ever visited Gunnison? Route suggestions...

We had a pretty hair raising trip coming up across 10K feet, up CO 114 from Santa Fe. Some 8% grades which was a challenge.

Does anyone know if heading east on US 50 over towards Salida and then turning south on 285 is any better a route?

Thanks
Keith Quigley
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Old 08-14-2022, 07:39 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by KeithQ View Post
We had a pretty hair raising trip coming up across 10K feet, up CO 114 from Santa Fe. Some 8% grades which was a challenge.

Does anyone know if heading east on US 50 over towards Salida and then turning south on 285 is any better a route?

Thanks
Keith Quigley
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that would be much better! Monarch pass and Poncha pass are not bad, take your time
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Old 08-14-2022, 07:54 PM   #3
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We did 50 from Kansas to 92 N. A lot of cattle trucks in Kansas, but a great drive otherwise.

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Old 08-14-2022, 08:17 PM   #4
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From Gunnison east to Poncha Springs and then south to Sant Fe means you will have to do Monarch Pass.
Out of Sargents you can't get a run at the pass so you will be in first gear all the way to the top watching the chipmunks out run you.
Out of Gunnison, I would take 114 south to Saguache and turn south on 285 down to Alamosa and on south.
There is no easy way to cross the continental divide.

Mike in Colorado
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Old 08-14-2022, 08:40 PM   #5
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We headed west on 70 to 91 down to Leadville. Then 24 down to 50 and west to Gunnison. Beautifull drive with a view of several 14,000-foot peaks. We drove this with our 43ft super C towing a Jeep Wrangler. Spent a week at the Gunnison KOA they moved on to St. George, UT.
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Old 08-14-2022, 11:17 PM   #6
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114 west of Saguache, CO is North Pass. It's marked 6% on the east side and westbound descent is 7% for 2 mi, then 5-6% for 2.5 mi. - which you did. If you return that way - eastbound has a descent of 6% for 3 miles with curves then gradually flattens out 5.5 mi from the summit.

Hwy 50 eastbound from Gunnison is Monarch Pass. The eastbound descent is 6% for 10 miles with curves and alternates from 2 to 3 lanes. Get into low gear before heading down. There is a runaway truck ramp 4.8 mi down from the top. After the ramp there are about 5.5 mi of 6% grade left. Stay in low gear. Once you get on 285 south you'll have Poncha Pass south of Poncha Springs. Southbound descent is mild grade for a mile or so and then becomes rolling hills.

Depending where you want to go you could also continue on 50 east towards Pueblo, CO - no grade after coming down Monarch Pass. From 50, before Canon City, you could also take 69 south to Walsenburg at I-25.
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Old 08-15-2022, 06:38 AM   #7
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As twogypsies says, North Cochetopa Pass on CO114 is an easier pass than Monarch Pass on US50 in terms of length of grades, steepness of grades and number of curves. US50 also has a lot more traffic. You've already been over CO114 so you know what it is like.

US50 is a nice wide road. CO114 is rather narrow in places.

If your hair was standing on end on CO114 it might jump out of your head on Monarch Pass on US50.

As Mike in Colorado says, "There is no easy way to cross the continental divide."

I live in Colorado. On a fairly regular basis I drive both of those roads in a 34' gasser towing a Jeep. If I were in Gunnison and wanted to get to US285 South I would go CO114. It is less miles, less curves and shorter grades.
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Old 08-15-2022, 08:18 AM   #8
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Thanks for the insight and advice. I think we will brave 114 again, since someone here at the park also talked about Monarch being an "interesting" challenge, and they are in a 40' rig.

Either way, beautiful country up here and we really saw very little traffic coming up 114 last time.

Cheers,
Keith
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Old 08-15-2022, 11:25 AM   #9
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Kieth,
Just to make you feel better, I will be driving from Buena Vista, over Monarch Pass to Gunnison for their annual car show this coming Friday night.
I always leave around 6 PM and plan on 2 hours for the trip. It's cooler then.

Old Jezebel does not like this trip, but she will do it, if I take my time.
Pict 1 is our rig. Pict 2 is the cargo, which with the trailer is about 8K #. I always turn on the 2 pancake fans @ Ponch springs, and Sargent's coming back. And I do watch the chipmunk's outrun me on both climbs.

Mike in Colorado
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Old 08-15-2022, 05:00 PM   #10
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Well, I do know what you mean by those dang chipmunks! They were able to pace us going uphill. And what a nice looking 2nd ride!

We decided to go ahead and try US50 over Monarch. It was also a beautiful drive, but my Garmin told me a couple of times we were hitting 10-11% grades. And I watched the speedometer drop to 16MPH at one point in 2nd gear.

Have a different issue with the transmission in our Berkshire (Cummins) as it inconsistently shifts downwards at appropriate times, but that should be a different topic I think.

Monarch, at 11325' was definitely cool. And coming down to eventually pick up 285 was great as well. Appreciate the advice from all.
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Old 08-15-2022, 06:05 PM   #11
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We decided to go ahead and try US50 over Monarch. It was also a beautiful drive, but my Garmin told me a couple of times we were hitting 10-11% grades.
Wonder why your Garmin stated that.
It's not 10-11% grades.

You also said North Pass was 8% grades & this link from the state says 6%.

Could your Garmin be off?

https://www.codot.gov/travel/maximum...in-passes.html
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Old 08-17-2022, 02:26 PM   #12
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Wonder why your Garmin stated that.
It's not 10-11% grades.

You also said North Pass was 8% grades & this link from the state says 6%.

Could your Garmin be off?

https://www.codot.gov/travel/maximum...in-passes.html
Well, Garmin, like any commercial GPS should be pinging government satellites to get speed, direction, altitude and grade continuously. It would flash from 6-8% and then maybe hit 11% briefly before going back to the posted grade. Roads are not perfectly even so it may just be periodic changes in the road level. But there were definitely some steep inclines *both* directions!

It was a nice ride and not as terrifying as the curvy but lovely CO 114 was.

We made it OK and are now back in Texas at a nice state park (Lake Arrowhead) where the grade is mostly 0% all the time!
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Old 08-18-2022, 07:24 AM   #13
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Well, Garmin, like any commercial GPS should be pinging government satellites to get speed, direction, altitude and grade continuously. It would flash from 6-8% and then maybe hit 11% briefly before going back to the posted grade. Roads are not perfectly even so it may just be periodic changes in the road level. But there were definitely some steep inclines *both* directions!

It was a nice ride and not as terrifying as the curvy but lovely CO 114 was.

We made it OK and are now back in Texas at a nice state park (Lake Arrowhead) where the grade is mostly 0% all the time!
Enjoy the cool weather at Arrowhead
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Old 08-18-2022, 08:24 AM   #14
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Enjoy the cool weather at Arrowhead
Oh yeah, both ACs blasting mostly all night! And only 100F... Much different than Gunnison, CO.
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